Choosing a banker over a bank

There is no doubt that one of the most critical relationships you have as business owner is with your commercial banker.

Today, bankers seem to be moving around more than any period since the 1980’s. The reasons for staying at a bank where you have conducted business for years despite your banker moving might seem the most practical; after all, it’s easier!  And, the thought of changing banks to follow your banker may seem overwhelming.

As with most service providers, such as your CPA or Attorney, you would typically follow the “individual” that has built the relationship with you over time as they have proven themselves to be a trusted advocate for you and your business.  

It may be worthwhile to give the same consideration to remaining with your banker instead of the bank. Some points to consider are:

  1. Is your banker someone whom you have already built a trusted  RELATIONSHIP?

Relationships take time to build. There is significant value to consider in your existing banker relationship versus the time it will require to determine if your newly assigned banker will be compatible. 

You might have a “history” with the bank, but your “relationship” is with the individual working at the bank.

There is value in the “known” versus the “unknown.” The comfort in knowing a banking professional that has shown over time to understand both you and your business might outweigh the short-term pain in moving.

  1. Has your banker demonstrated in the past to you to be your PROVEN ADVOCATE?

You hope that your “bank” will have your back in the future based on your history, but there are no guarantees that this will be the case. 

Is your banker someone who has demonstrated to you through past experience to “be in your corner” when needed?

Generally, you won’t know whether or not you have an advocate until you experience adversity.  If your banker has already demonstrated to be there for you in the past, there is comfort in knowing that they will most likely be there for you in the future.

  1. Does your banker take a GENUINE interest in your success and give you enough TIME?

Just like your doctor, you want your banker (or any service provider) to dedicate enough time to your specific case and to be empathetic to your cause.

Has your banker shown in the past that they are willing to sit down periodically and review your historical performance and projections of where you want to go in the future?

Does your banker have a history of reaching out to you… versus you having to track them down?

Are they more interested in selling you a product than discussing what your true needs are?

You might want to hold onto a banker that has shown through past actions to be sincerely interested in your success.

  1. Is your banker KNOWLEDGEABLE?

A banker that has an understanding of your company or industry adds significant value over a banker that lacks this experience. Do you have time and resources to “train your new banker?”

Can you sit down with your banker and discuss the details of your company’s historical financial performance or projections with confidence that they understand your operations?

Bankers with more experience within the banking industry itself can carry more weight within their bank, and be better equipped to provide you with better banking solutions or alternatives based on this experience.  

  1. Choose a banker who is STABLE.        

Although you should consider a banker over a bank, you don’t want to be changing banks every couple years.  Is this the first time in several years your banker has made a change? Or do they seem to move banks every couple of years?

You can feel better about moving with a banker who has shown to be relatively stable over time than a banker who is changing every 1 to 2 years.

After considering the above points, make absolutely certain before following a banker that “the Bank” where they have landed has the ability to handle your depository and lending needs in terms of overall Size, Technology, and Safety & Soundness.  Perform your own due diligence as well as reaching out to your other service providers for their opinion (such as your CPA).

Determining whether or not to follow a banker… or a bank… is not an easy decision.  Be willing to go through the process to evaluate the pros and cons of each as your relationship with your banker is just as important as the relationship you have with all of your key service industry providers.

(Editor’s note: This sponsored content was provided by First National Bank.)